Gender role congruency and perceived advertising effectiveness
Morrison, Maria Michelle
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Gender roles are being redefined in our country and it would seem reasonable to expect that advertising would strive to reflect those changes. However, in many cases, advertising remains traditional with respect to gender role portrayals. This research examined what might be termed the “gender role congruence model” of perceived advertising effectiveness. This model predicts that people will view as most effective those advertisements that match their own gender role orientations. It was also proposed that gender role congruence becomes a less salient aspect of perceived advertising effectiveness, especially for traditional individuals, when they self-reference the situations portrayed in the advertisements. Four hundred and eighty-eight undergraduates were assessed in terms of their gender role orientation and then were asked to view and rate print advertisements portraying either traditional or nontraditional gender roles. Study one results showed that traditional participants reported significantly more favorable communication effectiveness ratings for advertisements depicting traditional gender role portrayals than for advertisements depicting nontraditional portrayals. Traditional participants also rated the communication effectiveness of traditional advertisements more favorably than did nontraditional participants; however, nontraditional and traditional participants did not differ in their ratings of nontraditional advertisements. And, although not statistically significant, nontraditional participants reported nominally more favorable ratings for nontraditional advertisements than for traditional advertisements. Study two results showed that participants who were encouraged to self-reference rated the models in nontraditional advertisements more favorably than did participants who were not encouraged to self-reference. The results of this study also suggest that participants who find it easier to self-reference the situations portrayed in nontraditional advertisements report more favorable ratings of the advertisements’ effectiveness than do those participants who find self-referencing more difficult. The findings from this research provide some support for the gender-role congruency model, as well as the positive effects of self-referencing on traditional consumers’ ratings of the perceived advertising effectiveness of nontraditional advertisements, given that the situation portrayed in the ad is made relevant to the consumers.